Why You Should Keep Your Branding Consistent Across the Customer Journey

Building a loyal customer base is essential for any business’s success. Loyal customers are often advocates for your brand, referring you to friends and family and helping to grow your customer base even more. But in order to build and maintain a following of loyal customers, you need to ensure you’re delivering a positive customer experience.

Every interaction a customer has with your brand needs to be a positive one. To help you achieve that, you should focus on consistent branding throughout the entire customer journey. Strong branding helps customers feel confident in what your business has to offer and solidifies that trust and loyalty you work so hard to build.

To make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, consider how your brand appears at each stage of the customer journey.

What is a customer journey?

While every business is slightly different, most customers follow a basic framework when they’re deciding whether to make a purchase or do business with a company. The roadmap of experiences that leads them to their purchase decision is called the customer journey.

In other words, the customer journey includes all the experiences someone has with your brand—from first becoming aware of your company to purchasing from you regularly.

The main stages of the customer journey are:

  • Awareness: The potential customer has a need and becomes aware of your brand.
  • Discovery: The potential customer researches your brand to see if you can fill that need. They might compare you to other companies and their offerings.
  • Purchasing decision: The customer decides whether or not to purchase your product.
  • Retention: Your brand continues to engage the customer so that they return to purchase again and again.
  • Advocacy: The customer is loyal to your brand and encourages other customers to shop with you.

Why is consistent branding important?

In general, it takes 6-8 interactions for a customer to even consider purchasing from your brand. Keeping your branding consistent through every touchpoint bolsters your marketing efforts in multiple ways.

Most importantly, it creates an overall positive experience. It ensures that customers aren’t confused by inconsistent branding or messaging in the early stages of their journey, so they build more recognition and trust for your business. This helps you move them closer to a purchasing decision. After the customer has made a purchase, consistent branding will keep them coming back, because you’re a brand they know and trust.

How to build consistent branding

Follow these steps to ensure your branding is consistent across every step of the customer journey.

Awareness

A customer might initially hear about your brand through an advertisement online, on TV, or in print. At every advertising touchpoint, you use, make sure your branding is clear. Establish who you are and what you have to offer.

Include your business name and logo prominently on these ads, and display a clear brand promise. To entice the buyer, use customer-centric messaging that aligns with your brand’s voice and style.

Discovery

Potential customers will likely research your company online to learn more once they’ve heard about you. You’ll want to maintain a consistent design—including color palette, set of fonts, imagery, and logos—across all digital channels, including your website, blog, and social media.

These channels should also include a clear value proposition and deliver on the brand promises you made in your ads. Demonstrate how you fulfill that promise using imagery and storytelling.

Don’t forget about your customer service channels, either! Your customer service team should be answering questions in a way that’s on-brand. You should be responding to both positive and negative customer reviews in your standard voice, as well.

Purchasing decision

Once a customer decides to purchase from you, it’s your job to make them feel confident in that decision.

Carry your branding through to your in-store experience to minimize confusion when customers transition from digital to physical channels. You want customers to recognize that your store delivers on the same brand promise you have on your website. The overall design of your signage and décor should match your digital channels’, as should your messages and value proposition. Outside, use sidewalk signs, banners, flags, and window graphics to share those messages. Inside, make sure your wall and floor graphics, product displays, point-of-sale signage, business cards, and brochures match, too.

Packaging should also become part of your brand experience. Pay attention to the colors and designs of shipping boxes, product boxes, printed materials, bags, and even tape or ribbons to ensure they match your branding.

Additionally, ensure your sales team is using fresh, up-to-date, and consistently branded collateral. Your brochures, postcards, catalogs, look books, and stationery should feature similar elements to your digital channels and advertisements.

Retention

You’ve won the customer, but their journey is not over! If a customer has a negative or inconsistent experience with your brand during or after the purchasing process, they’re less likely to return.

Pay close attention to any follow-up communications you send customers and ensure you maintain that consistent logo, color palette, and design. All your marketing emails, direct mailers, social media posts, and retargeting ads should use those same elements to reinforce the customer’s understanding of your brand.

Great customer experiences start with strong branding

The importance of branding cannot be understated when it comes to building and reinforcing positive customer experiences. The more your customers come to understand and trust your brand, the more likely they will be to advocate for you. Don’t neglect any part of the customer journey—even after they purchase—to ensure you build a loyal customer base for the foreseeable future.

How to Leverage Signage for Marketing Your Business

It’s impossible to walk or drive through an urban environment today and not see signage. Every business has signage, largely because it’s the simplest, most accessible form of advertising. Storefront signs say, “My business operates here.” Flags and banners say, “We’re having a sale right now.” Big window clings say, “Look at the products I sell.”

Not only is this type of signage all around us, but it’s a ubiquitous part of how we interact with the world as consumers. The types of signage we’re exposed to and the messages we see cause us to act and react with the brands delivering them. This is all to say that, from a business standpoint, having the right signage is very important for success!

Why Signage Is Important for Any Business

Signage plays many different roles for a business. Your signage is never just an advertisement or a piece of branded collateral. It’s a powerful and multifaceted marketing tool.

Here are some of the ways to think about signage, beyond the means to sell:

  • Inform, direct, or entice a customer to take a desired action
  • Attract attention, create intrigue, and promote interest
  • Expose people to and educate them about your brand
  • Strengthen your brand’s awareness and customer recognition
  • Stand out from the competition

Above all, signage is a tangible, visible representation of your brand. When consumers look at it, they draw conclusions about your business based on how it looks and what the message says. They’ll make assumptions—warranted or otherwise—based on how your signage comes off to them.

If your signage sends a good message and creates a positive emotion, there’s a good chance your brand will benefit in some way. A customer might decide to step inside your business and buy something or develop a positive association with your brand that leads them to recommend you to a friend. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Poor signage will spark a lackluster response and may even lower people’s expectations or perceptions of your business. In a world where perception is reality, good signage is vital and important!

Make Signage Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Signage is one of the best ways to interact with people in the physical world. Consumers can’t send a sign to spam or unsubscribe from your signage. It’s always there, always visible, always prevalent. In the age of digital marketing, nothing comes close to the staying power of physical signage.

For these reasons, signage is a great addition to your marketing strategy. It provides an opportunity to capture an audience that you may not normally reach on other channels, and it reinforces your messaging to build loyalty with existing customers. Where, when and how you display signage gives it an almost infinite range of possibilities to build awareness, drive traffic, and spark more sales.

Like all your marketing, you want to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message. With signage, you have the benefit of choosing the location it’s displayed. Consider the context of that location, and cater your messaging accordingly. For example, a sign in the window of a business will prompt more immediate action and can lead to a purchase, whereas an advertisement in an airport will be more informational.

Use Signs to Grab Attention

Also consider your audience. Your message should be relevant and meaningful to the type of person you’re trying to attract—including copy, visuals, tone, branding, and the call to action. Use language and images that will resonate with them and give them a reason to do something other than just look at your sign. Push them to act!

The possibilities for signage are virtually endless. Businesses can create signs in any size, shape, color, or material and display them just about anywhere. Really, you’re only limited by your imagination, but there are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Keep your message simple. No more than seven words is a common rule of thumb.
  • Make the text big enough that it’s easy to read from afar.
  • Choose a compelling color scheme—one that’s on brand, yet easy on the eyes.
  • Provide contrast between text and colors or backgrounds to ensure legibility.
  • Keep it consistent with your brand identity, including copy, images, and CTA.

Want to really kick your signage up a notch? Consider placing it where and when your audience least expects it, but where it’s poised to make a big impression. These are generally places where immediate action isn’t possible (like in a bathroom or on a billboard), but where the unexpectedness of the sign will imprint its message in a more meaningful way.

You can also take a creative approach to get people intrigued by your signage. Ever follow arrows on the ground or footprints in a store? That’s creative signage at its finest!

What Signs are Best for Your Business?

The type of signs you select will depend heavily on their intent. Below are some of the most common types of commercial signage and their benefits.

Banners, Flags, and Large-scale Signage

There’s no ignoring banners, flags, and other large-scale signage outside of a storefront! These can’t-miss signs are best for general attention-getting and communicating one clear objective to attract passersby and draw them in.

Wall and Floor Graphics

Great for indoor and outdoor applications alike, wall and floor graphics give direction, boost brand awareness, and promote clear actions for customers.

Use wall graphics to showcase your brand and reiterate your brand values. One way to think about it is as a statement wall, but instead of paint it’s a branded wall graphic! Floor graphics are great for wayfinding but can be useful for delivering brand messages, too. Today, many businesses are using floor graphics as a way to enforce social distancing.

Digital Signage

Digital signage blends the benefits and broad possibilities of digital technology with the proven efficacy of physical signage. The result is highly-customizable, always-relevant signage.

Digital signs are a good option for those who want greater flexibility and personalization. They allow you to easily adjust your message for different audiences or at different times of the day. They offer variety in media types, such as videos, GIFs, and animations in place of static imagery. And in some cases, they even encourage the consumer to interact with your brand, as with touchscreens and digital wayfinding signs.

Vinyl Wraps

Not just for vehicles, vinyl wraps can turn windows, kiosks, furniture, cornhole boards, and anything else with a smooth surface into a curated advertisement with a clear, concise message.

With vinyl wraps, you have the ability to provide information about your business or advertise in non-traditional places. Additional benefits include: resilience against weather and wear over time; full customization across shapes, sizes, styles, and colors; and reusability when printed with the right materials.

The options for signage don’t end there, and neither do the possibilities for attracting and engaging your audience. Talk to a signage expert at AlphaGraphics to learn more about the many types of signage and the infinite customization options available, so you can bring your message to life in the most effective way.

8 Ways to Engage Local Customers Each and Every Day

Local small businesses live and die by their reputation among customers in a well-defined geographic area. If your local customers love your business and identify with your brand, a business can boom quickly and grow steadily. If they’re turned off by your brand identity, you’re likely to suffer at the hands of your only consumer base.

Getting into and staying in the good graces of local customers means not only presenting a business model and brand that’s appealing, but continuing to present that image. Forgetting about your business is almost as bad for your bottom line as disagreeing with it!

Staying in front of your local customers without becoming an annoyance can be tricky. Luckily, there are a few surefire ways to tread that line with impunity, keeping your business a local fan-favorite:

Explore Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a subtle, yet powerful way to stay on the local radar. If you’re a restaurant, invite local business reps to bring their lunch meetings to you. If you’re a print shop, volunteer your services for a local nonprofit. Influencer marketing is all about grassroots reputation building. Find people who will talk about your brand, and give them a reason to say positive things!

Get Involved In Your Community

If people see you as a fixture in the community, they’re going to support your business. Attend local events, donate to local groups and maintain your standing at the local level. Remember, every local impression you make is absorbed by your potential customer base.

Respond To Reviews

Whether positive or negative, it’s important to show your local customers you’re engaged. Responding on social platforms to reviews is a great way to stay in their world. Customers who take the time to leave a review or ask a question give you permission to engage them—capitalize on this in a simple, positive way and others will take note of it.

Advertise As A Service, Not Interruption

This is the essence of passive marketing. Display your daily specials on a chalkboard, leave your door open with a sales flyer at the entrance or offer a punch card for customer loyalty. These are all ways you can reach customers daily, without interrupting.

Improve Your Exterior Signage

As a local brick and mortar establishment, your exterior signage is going to do more for you than any digital ad. Make sure you’re making an investment in your primary storefront signage—it’ll translate into daily impressions that serve to keep you relevant within the local consumer class.

Consider Sponsorship

There are numerous opportunities for sponsorship with a community. From 5k runs to bike races, little league teams to car shows and more, these events need support. You’ll showcase the vested interest you have in local events and gain the respect of brand advocates who sing your praises. Moreover, if things like shirts or bumper stickers are part of the sponsorship, these items will continue to market for you long after the event has passed.

Support Local Radio

Local radio is a great marketing medium for your customer demographic—it spans only as far as your potential customers do! Having a radio spot here and there is a great way to get your name into the mix. Whether they’re sitting in traffic on the way home or scanning channels for something to listen to, customers are going to hear your appeal and remember it.

Experiment With Digital Ads

In the modern age of digital advertising, PPC ads can geographically targeted. Whether you’re advertising through Google or Facebook, targeting only your local crowd will make sure you’re getting face time each and every day. And, thanks to nominal costs, this blanketing method of advertising can also be the most cost-efficient.

Remember, your local customer pool is the only one you’ve got to work with: make sure you’re cultivating a brand that’s valued by them! Consider the above ways to stay relevant and popular among your local customers.

Want even more great ideas on how to get your business noticed in your local market? Come visit us, AlphaGraphics Middleton!

Maintaining Your Business’s Culture in the New Normal

Of all the factors that drive business success, culture is among the most important. People need to come to work each day and feel good about what they do—like they’re part of a team; somewhere they’re appreciated. Good culture is the secret sauce for any successful business.

A lot of what creates good culture comes from the everyday interactions people have while at work. Casual conversation around the water cooler. Meetings they sit in on. Brainstorming sessions between coworkers.

Seeing people and interacting with the physical workplace are the biggest building blocks of culture. For many businesses, those building blocks are gone for the time being. We’re working from home, social distancing, and minimizing our interaction with the workplace. It begs the question: How can you preserve your company’s positive culture in the face of these changes?

The workplace and the way we work may be changing, but a strong culture can survive these changes. To make sure your people feel appreciated, recognized, and fulfilled, you need to adapt your culture to the new norm.

Keep your culture strong while at home

Remote work is here to stay. Even if you don’t keep your team on a full-time telecommuting schedule, your culture needs to extend beyond the physical workplace. Watercooler chats become Slack channels. Weekly meetings become Zoom calls. The 9-5 workday becomes “whenever someone messages you back.”

What businesses need to realize is that while the way we do things may be changing, what we do can stay relatively the same thanks to technology. Coworkers can still crack jokes back and forth—only now, they can send memes and gifs. They can still compare notes after a meeting—they’ll just collaborate in a Google Doc, instead.

For your culture to stay strong, you need to provide employees with the means to keep things as close to normal as possible. They may be working from home, away from the workplace and the people in it, but if they can still get the same level of interaction and gratification, positive culture will persevere.

Revitalize your culture

New shifts in work habits and routines can give you a chance to revitalize parts of your culture that might be stagnant or antiquated. Use the “new normal” as a way to reinvent parts of your business that have a direct impact on culture.

Ask yourself how you can support and encourage employees—both as a group and on an individual level. Small changes and improvements can go a long way toward revitalizing your company culture and rejuvenating a workforce that might feel initially displaced.

Take care of your staff

The biggest contributor to positive culture in a time like this is taking care of your staff. Make sure their needs are met, and do what it takes to provide them with confidence and assurance. Often, this is simple:

  • Get them set up to work remotely and answer any questions they have
  • Make adjustments to policies and protocols that make telecommuting easier
  • Check in with employees individually and see that they have what they need
  • Provide a medium for feedback and take meaningful strides to support workers

It comes down to accommodating and enabling your staff. If they can ease comfortably into their new situation and feel supported doing so, they’ll make the transition just fine. Conversely, if the pressure is always on and they feel overburdened, it’ll contribute to a negative company culture.

Focus on employee wellness

For individuals telecommuting, their living space has now become their workplace. This can have big ramifications for their physical and mental health. Employers need to recognize the strain that comes with living where you work and provide outlets for alleviating some of the burdens that accompany this radical change. Some very simple examples include:

  • Employee wellness packages and offering time off or personal days
  • Flexible work schedules within a set range of hours or over a period of days
  • Encouraging relaxation breaks and wellness activities, such as yoga or even a nap
  • Wellness games and incentives, encouraging employees to stay active and healthy

Whether it’s hosting a department-wide watch party for a movie on Friday night or tallying points for employees who rack up steps on their pedometer, make employee health a priority. Positive culture can only come from a workforce that’s physically and mentally well and who feel like you value them beyond their ability to work.

Make new employees feel welcome

The workforce is always in flux, which means adding new members to your team and saying goodbye to those who find new opportunities. Maintaining culture amidst growth and turnover comes from engrained processes. How will you practice onboarding in a virtual environment without leaving new employees feeling isolated? What steps can you take to integrate them into the team in a meaningful way?

Make onboarding and team recognition core elements of your new normal. Try virtual meet-and-greets or Friday conference calls and activities. Encourage inclusion into group communication threads. The quicker people feel like they’re part of a team, the stronger your culture grows.

Welcome the new norm

We’ve all had to change the way we work—and the changes likely aren’t over. The new norm is becoming clearer by the day and, for most people, that means more time spent interacting with people from a distance. This doesn’t mean the death of your company culture! It means new opportunities to grow a positive culture in your workplace. All it takes is a little adaptation and a focus on the people responsible for your business’ success.

Keeping Your Brand Positive

 

These days, it’s hard to escape talk of COVID-19. It’s infiltrated the news, social media, advertising, and worst of all, our daily thoughts and concerns. As a brand, it’s important to be sensitive to the current state of affairs while also giving your customers a positive escape. As you might imagine, it’s a difficult balancing act.

To ensure your brand is sending the right messages to its audience, now is the time to reevaluate your content strategy and refocus on the positives.

Reevaluate your customers’ content needs

The first step in refocusing your brand’s content is taking a deeper look at what kinds of content your customers are looking for. You may have had a firm grasp on this before, but the pandemic has changed many people’s outlooks and reactions to consumer-facing brands.

Conduct social listening, surveys, and data analysis to discover your customers’ attitudes toward particular messages. What do customers expect from you? What do they want more of? Are they tired or overwhelmed with certain content types or topics? What are they interested in right now, and what are the sentiments surrounding those topics?

Really listen to your audience during this time and use their feedback to reshape your content strategy.

Provide positive, non-crisis content

One thing all brands can do more of at this time is share more positive, uplifting content that has nothing to do with COVID-19. Sharing funny memes or heartfelt stories can give consumers a break from the overwhelming amount of news and social media coverage of the pandemic. Keep your brand’s voice positive, inspirational, and uplifting, but stray away from wit or sass that might be inappropriate for the current situation.

You may not want to avoid the topic of COVID-19 entirely if it’s relevant to your brand, but you shouldn’t feed into the crisis mentality, either. If you do talk about the pandemic, share messages about helping others and how your brand is there to help. Try to keep things light while ensuring they’re relevant to your brand’s goals and voice.

Market sensitively

The key to navigating marketing during the pandemic is to stay sensitive. Now isn’t the time for major sales pushes that capitalize on the crisis. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still promote your brand.

Find ways to position your business in a sensitive and helpful way. If you’re a small, local brand, share messages that encourage the support of local businesses—not only yours, but also others in the community.

Pay close attention to the words your ads, social posts, and other marketing campaigns use. Avoid creating a sense of urgency—nothing is more important than COVID-19 right now. Instead, reframe your product or service messages to show the value they can offer customers, especially during this time.

Expand your content horizons

Every brand’s content strategy has been disrupted in some way. Now might be a great time to try new content types you might not normally do.

While you want to keep topics relevant to your industry and your customer’s needs and expectations, try to shake things up a little bit. Test new content ideas and see how customers respond to them. Can you provide additional value through a new, relevant content angle?

Additionally, try testing new content formats and gauge audience response. Perhaps your customers would be interested in reading more blog posts or watching informative YouTube videos about your brand and products. There are tons of ways you can expand your content strategy to provide more positive and valuable content while simultaneously strengthening your platform.

Show your positive impact

Now more than ever, customers want to know that the brands they love are giving back and doing good in the world. It’s somewhat expected that a brand’s profits take a backseat in favor of charitable acts and support.

Your brand can feed into this by showcasing the positive things you’re doing in your community and encouraging others to do the same. Don’t present it in a way that’s “showing off” or grandstanding. Instead, lead by example and make it a movement your audience can rally behind.

Share acts of community service by members of your team, whether they’ve volunteered time at a food bank or homeless shelter, or sewed masks for hospital staff. If your business donated food or money to a charity, share that. You could even host a fundraiser with your followers to show that you’re interested in doing good while making the biggest possible impact.

Positive branding can result in brand loyalty and trust

Consumers are paying closer attention to marketing efforts than they normally do. Staying positive humanizes your brand and lets customers know you care about them, not just the bottom line. By sending the right messages, you can strengthen the trust your customers have in your brand and position your business as one of immense value.